Opponents admire Downs
Though disappointed at losing 3-2 to Mamelodi Sundowns in their opening Confederations Cup match on Saturday, TP Mazembe coach Mutubile Santos was not at all surprised by what unfolded in the second half.
Santos, who clearly travelled to South Africa with a healthy regard for their opponents, had just watched Sundowns snatch a win that seemed unlikely at half-time in the Group A encounter at Loftus .
"At half-time I reminded my players of what Sundowns did in the Al Ahly game - that they have the guts to turn the tables on you at any time, and that is exactly what happened here," Santos said.
"Obviously, it is very bad for us. As for defending our lead, I never told them to do that because we still continued to attack, but they were just too powerful."
The Brazilians had seemed to have succumbed to DRC international Mabi Mputu's two goals in the first half, when coach Gordon Igesund made a key change by pulling out Tyren Arendse for Lungisani Ndlela.
That prevented right-back Bawaka Mbele from initiating moves from that position, as he and the other defenders had their hands full trying to subdue Ndlela.
Downs got their first goal in the 58th minute through Manqoba Ngwenya, and four minutes later Esrom Nyandoro evened the score with a 35m left-footed shot.
"To be honest it was a good goal," Nyandoro said. "It has been a long time since I scored, and I'm not even 100 percent fit yet. This was our first official game and we struggled a lot, especially in the first half. Something special was sorely needed and I'm glad we managed to pull it off."
The winning goal, not surprisingly, came from Surprise Moriri deep in injury time. The Brazilians' coach, Gordon Igesund, was justifiably proud of his charges.
"The guys performed really well. Obviously, I came down hard on them in the dressing room, and was happy with their fighting spirit in the second half," he said. "Bringing in Ndlela really turned the game on its head because it stopped their defenders from joining in the attacks."
Igesund will pat himself on the back for managing this feat while he only had three players on his bench on the night, with Brian Baloyi and Peter Ndlovu not having finalised their contracts with the club, and several others out injured.